Health - Conditions
By: - at June 24, 2013

Pinch Nerve: The Cause of Remote Pain

Neck Pain

A pinch nerve is a health problem that occurs when the surrounding tissues compress a nerve at a point along its length. Consequently, the compressed part of the nerve interferes with its normal functions. Therefore, a pinch nerve cannot effectively transmit signals from or to the brain. Furthermore, the condition can cause discomfort to the patient ranging from numbness to unbearable pain. The doctor may not immediately diagnose pinch nerve because the patient feels the symptoms far from the pinch area. This article describes pinch nerve: types, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

Causes of Pinch Nerve
There are six common causes of pinch nerve. First, a herniated disc can compress the nerve. This occurs when one or more of the discs that separate the bones of the vertebral column rupture. Consequently, the soft internal contents of the disc protrude into the spinal canal and compress the spinal cord. Lifting heavy loads can cause disc rupture. Furthermore, a hard hit on the back can cause disc rupture: as in a bathroom fall or motor vehicle accident. Second, the spinal canal, through which nerves and spine pass, can become narrower. Spinal stenosis is the medical term for this condition that usually occurs due to old age. The bones and discs that form the backbone can become dry and thicken as you advance in age. Consequently, the bones can protrude into the spinal canal and make it narrow.

Besides, swollen tendon sheaths and degenerated and thickened ligaments can swell and make the spinal canal narrow. Third, arthritis can make some of the vertebrae and the discs of the backbone to bulge into the spinal canal. Consequently, arthritis of the backbone can cause spinal stenosis. Fourth, bone spurs can cause pinch nerve by either compressing the nerve or narrowing the spinal canal. Spurs are growths on normal bones. Another name for bone spurs is osteophytes. The bone can grow due to pressure or old age. Fifth, swelling of the tissues around the nerve can cause pinch nerve. A bruise or injury can cause the swelling. Furthermore, bulging of extremities in pregnant women can cause the swelling. Lastly, some patients inherit the risk of developing pinch nerve.

Symptoms of Pinch Nerve
The common symptoms of pinch nerve include pain, weakness, tingling, and numbness of the muscles it innervates. The patient feels the symptoms of a pinch nerve on the parts of the body it innervates. They can appear near the location of the pinch or at a remote part of the body. For instance, the patient can feel the symptoms of a neck pinch nerve from the neck up to the arm: stiffness or pain. Likewise, the symptoms can affect the back up to the leg for a lower back pinch nerve.

There are three common pinch nerve conditions. First, scartica is a condition caused by pinch scartia nerve, which innervates the buttocks and the legs. The condition causes numbness, pain, and weakness of the muscles of the buttocks and legs. Second, pinched ulna nerve causes cubital tunnel syndrome. The ulna nerve is in the elbow. The symptoms occur in the small fingers, ring finger, and forearm.

Long periods of repetitive activities can cause the syndrome. Such activities include work in assembly line and typing. Lastly, carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is pinched. The median nerve is in wristís confined tissues. The syndrome causes numbness, weakness, and pain in the index, middle fingers, wrist, and thumb. Repetitive work and diabetes can cause swelling of the tissues that can lead to this syndrome.

Diagnosis of Pinch Nerve
X-ray of neckThe doctor can carry out some tests to identify the pinch nerve. The information the doctor requires to identify the affected nerve includes work history, family medical history, medical condition and history, and nature and location of the symptoms. First, he carries out physical examination at the areas where the patient feels the symptoms. During these examinations, he tests strength of the patientís sensation and muscle tones.

Second, he can carry out tests to find the pinch nerve. The doctor can use Computerized Tomography (CT) scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, Straight Leg Raise test (SRL), or Myelogram to confirm the pinch nerve. The CT scan uses x-rays. However, the MRI scan uses magnetic and radio waves and helps avoid x-ray exposure. A negative SRL confirms absence of a herniated disc in the lower lumber. Myelogram method involves scanning with x-ray after injecting a tracer material into the spinal cord. The x-ray film can show a herniated disc.

Lastly, he carries out tests to find the location of the pinch. The doctor can use Electromyogram and Nerve Condition Studies (EMG/NCS) for this test. This scanning method uses electrical impulses. It involves measuring the speed of a mild electrical impulse in the nerve. The doctor passes the impulse into the nerve by inserting a needle into the muscle that the nerve innervates. He then asks the patient to contract the muscle. The speed of the impulse reduces at the pinch.

Conservative Treatment for Pinch Nerve
Young girl sleepingYou can use the following four conservative methods simultaneously to treat pinch nerve. First, pinch nerves usually heal on their own if they are given time. However, the patient should avoid activities that would put pressure on the nerve. Therefore, doctors usually advice patients of pinch nerve to rest. Second, ice and heat can ease pain and muscle spasms by making the muscles relax. You can apply warm water to the effected muscle using a bottle with a small hole. Leave it for some time then apply ice. Third, you can use physiotherapy to stretch and strengthen body muscles. This helps relieve pressure on the pinch nerve. Lastly, you can use anti-inflammatory drugs such as pregablin (Lyrica), gabapentin (neurontin), naproxen, and ibuprofen.

Surgery for Pinch Nerve
surgeon operatingDoctors use surgery as a last resort when conservative methods fail to treat the symptoms, the patientís condition is deteriorating fast, and the pinch nerve is life threatening. For instance, a pinch nerve caused by a herniated disc can be life threatening and may require emergency surgery to extract the disc. If the surgeon removes a large portion of the disc, he can perform spinal fusion to fill the gap created. Furthermore, the fusion makes the spine stable and helps avoid another pinch nerve. The technique the surgeon uses depends on the location of the pinch.


 

 

 

 

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